Saturday 5 September 2009

Experts explain battle against euthanasia in America

Mr William Saunders (pictured right), senior vice president of Americans United to Life, began his talk today to this weekend's SPUC annual national conference by expressing concern about the Liverpool Care Pathway. He regretted that the depopulation of certain western countries meant that there were fewer people in work to pay for care for the elderly; this could mean increased pressure for euthanasia.

In 1997, the US supreme court had ruled that the right to privacy which had been used to legalise abortion did not also confer a right suicide. However, the court also said that individual American states could decide if such a right existed. The state of Montana was considering a case which could establish such a right.

America had activist judges who sought to dictate policy, yet Bill pointed out that this was undemocratic. Elected legislatures needed to make the law.

Dr Jack Willke (pictured left) president of Life Issues Institute and of the International Right to Life Federation, pointed out how judges had legalised abortion in America through the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision in the supreme court.

Jack described how the journal Issues in Law and Medicine had put together plenty of evidence which undermined the case for euthanasia. That collection of papers had helped win the supreme court case against the alleged right to kill oneself.

There was assisted suicide in Oregon. All that was needed was for a licensed doctor to write a prescription. While many suicidal people were suffering from depression, very few who legally killed themselves are referred to a psychiatrist.

Jack expressed gratitude to Britain for developing hospices, which he has helped to promote in America.

The conference session on euthanasia was introduced by Alison Davis (pictured right) of No Less Human, who told the conference that she had also once been anti-life, a strong supporter of a right to choose abortion. Dr Willke's book Love them both was instrumental in converting her to the pro-life cause.

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